My 3 Week European Packing List

Recently I found a stash of photos taken on our 3 week European Honeymoon. I am obsessing over them. It also made me flash back to a blog I wrote years ago in regards to packing for such a trip. I have since discontinued the old blog and reimagined this one! So for a flash from the past, check out my 3 Week European Packing List below!

And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter for more photos!

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Prior to our honeymoon, I read everything I could about packing for our European backpacking adventure. The trip would take us across three different climates, several countries and expose us to many cultural taboos. My version of backpacking had always been camping oriented, so trying to plan for this particular trip was stressful. I focused my attention on articles about not looking like a tourist (i.e. American tourist)  but ofcourse as soon as we arrived, the fashion in Europe was AMERICANA. So while I harped on my husband about packing his nice slacks, denim was in. Tshirts with dumb English slogans and Lady Gaga paraphernalia were everywhere.

I found that despite this particular fashion trend, there were a couple rules adult Americans should follow while traveling in Europe. (I say Adult because these rules do not necessarily apply to college students and high school bands traveling abroad.)

The basics:
1. No “American” tshirts. (I interpreted this as College wear. Anything that has some stupid slogan, any random branding, any ‘I heart’ whatever tshirts or sports memorabilia etc.)
2. No white tennis shoes or baseball hats.
3. Wear lots of black. Europeans like black.
4. No fanny packs. (But seriously…unless you’re my 64-year-old, retired-cop father who still carries his gun in a small fanny pack on his hip…fanny packs are never okay.)
5. Fitted clothes over slouchy. (This goes for the guys too.)

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For all the research I did though I could not find one sample of a packing list for such a trip. For that reason I’m posting several lists. The first is what I actually packed. The second is what I wish I had packed. The third is what I ended up buying and then had to pack or ship back home. **The starred items were indispensable.**

What I Packed:
*1 Pair of black skinny jeans (Cannot emphasize enough how perfect these were for the trip. Easy to dress up or dress down. Fashionable but classic. Always looked good.)
*1 Pair of dark denim skinny jeans (Again, perfect for the trip.)
*1 Pair of black Coach tennis shoes (Comfortable but not too casual for exploring museums/ruins etc.)
1 Pair of black ballet slippers (Wore these twice in Scotland and quickly realized they were not indestructible.)
*1 Pair of brown knee-high Born boots (Saved my freaking life!)
1 short, black ballet dress
*1 short, green dress (Super cute. Wore it several times. Only issue was bloating. Celiacs bloat when eating wheat. A celiac in Italy bloats alot and looks like a sausage in a super cute green dress…)
1 long, black sleeveless dress (Never wore it.)
*1 black long sleeved cardigan with little pockets (Lived in it.)
*1 Black short sleeve sweater
*1 White short sleeve shirt (This was perfect for photo ops in colorful places.)
1 Blue/White striped short sleeve shirt
*1 Black tank top (Went with everything. Easy and comfortable when traveling.)
1 Green tank top
*1 Long sleeve white shirt
*1 black Northface jacket (Always travel with it. ESPECIALLY if exploring some place like Scotland or climbing a mountain in Germany.)
1 brown skinny belt
*Ridiculous amounts of socks
*Appropriate amounts of underwear
*1 Floral infinity scarf (Made it easy to change up my outfits when I was feeling monotonous.)
*Sunglasses
*1 Black Marc Jacobs sling bag (Large enough to slip my large camera in but small enough that it didn’t draw attention to us as  tourists)
1 small camera bag w/ a good Camera (Invest in a decent camera. You will not regret it.)
*1 small, cheap folding backpack (Best to pick this up at a travel store for a few $’s. You won’t feel bad trashing it and it folds up to the size of a wallet.)
*1 Pair of pretty but cheap earrings you’re not concerned about losing.
*My work/man ring in place of my engagement ring/wedding band
1 Pair of khaki Bermuda pants (I wore these once because my husband said they would be comfortable. I hated it. I felt slouchy and uncomfortable among the fashionable European women.)
1 Pair of jean shorts (I rarely wore these except in southern Italy.)
*1 Bikini

Wish I had Packed:
1 Stocking cap
1 Pair of light gloves
Lingerie (Thought it made sense not to haul lingerie around everywhere but shit…it was our honeymoon…)

Things I bought THEN had to pack:
3 (Yes, 3) dresses
2 scarfs
2 sweaters
3 tshirts
*1 stocking cap
*1 pair of gloves
1 super short skirt for the beach
*1 sun hat (This was so Italy! Loved it.)
*1 black blazer (Wish I had purchased this earlier because it was so perfect for travel!)

Looking back I would have packed less tops and less dresses. The great thing about our planning was that we were able to stay on a DOD (Department of Defense) military resort in Germany and washed all our clothes about half way through our trip. So in theory I could have packed half of what I did. The issue being that we were traveling over three very different climates and had to pack for each. In fact, in Germany not only did I do laundry but I sent back a small box of thicker clothing that I knew I wouldn’t wear in Italy.

The bottomline is layer, layer, layer. Plan in layers and slowly ship back clothing and souvenirs as you change climates. A couple of tank tops, a couple of shirts, two dresses, one sweater and a multi-purpose cardigan would have done it.

But hey, you live, you travel and you learn.

Scotland

Preview of “Germany”

Preview of “Italy”

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First Flight/Vacation with Baby

Our first big family trip was planned to introduce Baby to my husband’s side of the family in northern Washington. I love that area of the country. The first time I ever visited was long before I met my husband. When I flew in all I saw was green. Green soggy earth. I loved it. The temperature never rose about 75 and never fell below 50.  It was my kindof place. The land of North Face, serious coffee addicts and fresh flowers.

I always look forward to adventures in the Pacific Northwest, though this particular round would be obviously different with Baby in tow. We planned a noonish flight for Daddy’s work schedule and in the hopes that Baby would sleep through her first flight. I woke the little one up around 6am and began running her ragged. By the time we left for the airport she was dead weight in our arms.

I had a minor panic attack as we went through the security checkpoint when the TSA man wanted to steal Baby’s food but my panic must have made him rethink it because he let a couple small jars slide instead. We made it to our first/only layover with no problems. Infact, Baby was voted cutest baby of the day at Denver International Airport by the TSA ladies and managed to stop a small crowd by hanging onto Mommy’s carry-on luggage like a monkey as we jogged to the next gate.

Our second flight was delayed and Baby was wide-awake by the time we boarded. Only plus of the incident was that my husband and I were seated one in front of the other on the plane and just bounced her from seat to seat. By the time we reached Seattle, Baby, Mommy and Daddy were exhausted. We met a relative for dinner and Baby and I fell asleep at the table. I remember very little from that night.

The next morning we went to my favorite site in the city, Pike’s Place Market. No matter how many times we visit, it is the first and last place I want to go. Though I would fully recommend the tourist trap to any adult visiting the area, I warn parents with small children to be weary. The crowds can be crushing and scary at times. And it is very easy to become distracted by tiny asian women popping in and out of huge flower stalls filled with giant blooms. We downsized our giant BOB stroller for a small folding travel version for this trip and yet we still had trouble getting through the crowds. But a benefit of the stroller was that at the end of our morning market stroll, we carried baby and piled the stroller high with 7 fresh bouquets for less than $50. It was amazing. I grinned and pet each bouquet like a crazy person. If ever I leave the midwest, it will be for a small condo in downtown Seattle within minutes of the masses of fresh flowers and determined asian ladies.

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From the moment we left downtown Seattle, it was a week packed with family time. We drove from home to home meeting and greeting cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and great grandparents.

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One of our last days in Washington, we met with my Husband’s parents and took Baby on her first ferry ride. We rode out to the San Juan islands and explored Roach Harbor. The island lifestyle is so prevalent in the area that I instantly wanted a boat. I wanted to live like the old retired doctors and lawyers of the area with their Sperry shoes and sassy boat names. We strolled through manicured gardens and tried Lavendar gelato. We watched rainbows emerge above the Puget Sound and laughed as the little ones pointed out various sea life. All in all it was a great day trip for any small family. The local restaurants and stores catered to tourists with a great selection of food and souvenirs but the atmosphere was more relaxed and upscale then the grungy streets of downtown Seattle.

My recommendation if you’re in the area, is to get out of Seattle. Load up that stroller and take a road trip north to the small towns of the islands. Spend a little bit of cash on the ferry and watch seagulls, otters and sometimes whales as you relax with your favorite little one.

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One of the last day trips we could work into our busy family-visiting schedule was to Leavenworth, Washington. The town was a few hours from where we were staying with family, but my husband and I couldn’t resist the allure of authentic German food. Ever since we visited Germany on our honeymoon, we have desperately sought out authentic German food and beer. Obsessed seems too weak of a word.

The entire town is stylized as an old German village with the architecture of each building crowned by authentic looking murals. We spent the day eating spaetzle, schnitzel and drinking German beer. We walked stony trails along a small mountain river and explored cute Christmas stores. We chose a family Christmas ornament and watched Baby drool over sweets at a candy shop. Again, I would adamantly recommend a day outing with your small family to this small town. There are many little restaurants (not all German) that were family friendly and inexpensive. On our way out we snagged flavored brats for the ride and took in our last mountain views.

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Our last full day in Washington, we spent exploring the State Fair with the in-laws. Baby and her cousins oh’ed and ah’ed at the assortment of alpacas and cattle on display. We watched a costume contest for show dogs while the bigger kids rode rides. We shared snowcones and explored craft displays. It was a day of quality family time that Baby greatly enjoyed.

The next day we said our goodbyes and drove into Seattle for lunch. We ventured back to Pike Place in search of fried halibut and chips. Perched in a huge window, enjoying our fried food and listening to the hustle of the city, we stared out at the Puget Sound and watched cargo ships lazily float by. Baby was entranced by the huge ferris wheel rotating near by. Mommy and Daddy sighed, mentally preparing for another round of flights on our long way home.

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Pinterest of Interest – Traveling Momma Edition

Our first big family trip is on the horizon. Four plane rides, a week in a far away city and tons of family to visit…I’ve been mentally packing for weeks. We have the travel stroller, the diapers, the formula, her clothes, shoes, hats and coats in case it’s cold, packed food in case we’re trapped on the plane for days and everything else you can possibly imagine EXCEPT … for Mommy’s clothes.

 

We tend to forget ourselves. A funny thing considering we were at one point the center of our own universes for a time.

But not only am I packing for the first trip I’ve been able to take in years (due to pregnancy and baby) but it’s also my first autumn trip in ages! FALL clothes, baby!

Check out my favorite fall looks for the traveling Momma.

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1. Been eye-balling these boot socks for months. $34. SOLD! The Lacey Lou Gold Openwork Leg Warmers

2. I’m obsessed with this look, minus the bag. I mean seriously, I can’t stand skin bags. How old are we? 90? 10 Great Winter Looks

3. Such cute Autumn hair inspiration. Alex Crabtree’s Hair & Makeup Blog.

4. Well ofcourse I’m obsessed with this $1200 Burberry coat. Someone should buy it for me. Burberry.com

5. Check out this great Instagram feed for fabulous style inspiration.

6. How amazing would these be for EVERYTHING! Shoemint.com

 

Later, comrades!

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Baby goes to the Farmers Market

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Small town Farmer’s Markets are nothing like the yuppie “open-air markets” of the coasts. Real farmers negotiating the costs of imperfect goods and complaining about the weather. That’s a small town market. A reason for local farmers to come together and socialize. To bond.

My Grandfather is one of those farmers. He drives 40 minutes every summer Sunday to a small town just west of his property. He sets up a folding table and baskets of cucumbers, peppers, sweet corn, jellies, eggs and home baked bread. His wife totes around a small fanny pack with change and gossips with the rest of the farmers who come from all over the area. My 80-year-old grandfather sits in the back of his truck and watches people as they study his goods. It’s a show in and of itself.

My husband and I venture to the small town a few times a summer. This summer has been especially hard for us to get there since I’ve been working nights and the baby doesn’t exactly like mornings. But we finally made the trek this last weekend and it was worth the ride.

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We sat with my Grandpa behind his booth as he explained each key player in the market choreography. He pointed out a a little old woman marching from one side of the market to the other with a stern look on her face. He whispered that she was a 102 years old. Laughing, he told us of the lady’s 86-year-old daughter who also braves the market regularly.  He pointed out the “foreign” lady down the way who bakes kolaches and pies from her small kitchen while supplying a seemingly endless supply of little boys for her husband. And the old farmer parked nearby with the baskets of peaches and sun-baked cowboy hat.

We listened and laughed, all the while wrestling rocks and sticks out of Jilly’s mouth. Baby appeared to be enjoying herself as she fumbled around the market, grabbing anything within reach and talking to anyone who would listen.

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Justin wasn’t much better as he immediately located a booth of baked goods and proceeded to purchase half-a-dozen kolaches and an entire rhubarb pie.

I happened upon a man made of eggplant and immediately wanted him. No dice.

We stayed as long as baby’s outfit could take, but soon she was coated in dust and dirt. She had successfully gummed a dozen rocks and a handful of small potatoes. How many she actually consumed…I’ll never know.

I hope to make it back atleast once more this summer. I always feel more connected to my food and home at the farmer’s market than I ever have at the grocery store. And I guess as I get older and my daughter starts to wear big girl clothes, that feeling matters much more to me than the quick drive to the local store.

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10 Things to do in Seattle with Kids

My family and I are heading to Seattle soon to visit my in-laws. This will be the first trip with our 10 month old. Also the first time she will have been on a plane.
I’m excited.
I’m terrified.
In an effort to keep from stressing, I am in hyper-planning mode. I know that seems strange but it’s how I deal with stress. I plan the shit out of things.
While doing some research into cool kid stuff in Seattle, I came across this little tidbit from the Scary Mommy Blog. She has many a guide for US cities and I believe some international as well.

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Take a look. Take a trip. Plan the shit out of things.

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